The only thing Nic Healey hates more than a Monday is the horror of gadget-free public transport.
In the current issue of PC & Tech Authority (on sale from May 4) we have a fascinating article on cars and the future technology that’ll be affecting the way you drive – we look at Europe, Australia and the US to see what the cutting edge of vehicular travel will be like.
It’s excellent, but the truth is I don’t drive. I actually don’t even have a license. I’m a regular patron of what we in NSW begrudgingly call" Public Transport" when we’re feeling polite and more regularly call "The Tenth Circle of Hell".
Trains, buses, ferries – if it travels in a forward direction with a large amount of people on board then chances are I’ll be on it at some point in any given week. So I had to wonder what technology there is for the public transport junkies amongst us. Here’s my own personal breakdown:
Smartphone: Not only is the GPS function fantastic for discovering exactly where in the middle of nowhere your train has mysteriously parked for the last 15 minutes, you can also use it to call work and let them know you’ll be late and then jump on twitter to find out how many of the people you follow are also on the same train – just look for the hashtag #&*%youcityrail
MP3 Player: The actually important element here are the headphones. Where possible you want these to be big over-ear numbers that are extremely obvious. Couple with sunglasses and you’ve got an excuse to ignore absolutely anyone and everyone – even close friends – who might want to converse with you before you’ve had your morning coffee. Don’t even bother with music – just download some white noise and loop the sound.
eBook Reader: This is a tricky one – on one hand you run the risk of complete strangers wanting to talk to you about such a strange and obviously magical device (something I've ranted about before), but on the other, chances are you’ll be stuck on that train or bus for so long that you’re likely to need a spare book. Maybe even two. Have you thought of starting the Wheel of Time series?
Netbook & 3G dongle: If worse comes to worst – and it will when public transport is involved – just haul out this and pretend that you’re hotdesking from some particular small office with only a flickering fluorescent light and the stench of the unwashed masses for company. Try making a game of the horror – maybe you’re a war correspondent in a bomb shelter? NB: This only works if you managed to find a seat. Which you won’t have.
A final open letter to smartphone manufacturers: Please, for the love of all that is holy and right in this world, can you put in an age verification facility for when people want to play music over the built-in speakers. Somewhere around 55+ should be fine. Anyone who’s been forced to take public transport with school-age kids will thank you from the bottom of their hearts.